By Sivarajan A.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: PSM is disappointed with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) for its lackadaisical attitude in carrying out its Public Consultation on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) General Review 2024. The CPTPP, morphed version of the US-led Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) was a contentious trade agreement signed by 11 countries in 2018 and ratified by Malaysia in November 2022. 
The agreement was criticized by community and civil society organizations here, as it has overwhelming influence beyond trade. The trade rules have an impact on local farmers, workers, Malaysian SME’s, government procurement policies, state-owned enterprises, etc.
With such a vast impact on various sectors of society, MITI’s Public Consultation via a survey form is scrimpy. According to the Terms of Reference as agreed by all participating countries in the trade agreement, the General Review among others, should include an assessment if the agreement has; 
• Continued to promote trade and investment to bring economic growth and social benefits, create new opportunities for workers and businesses, contribute to raising living standards, benefit consumers, reduce poverty, and promote sustainable growth;
• Reinforced the links between trade, the CPTPP, and evolving global environmental issues, including climate change and biodiversity loss.
• Continued to uphold labour rights improve working conditions and living standards, and strengthen cooperation and capacity on labour issues.
However, MITI’s Public Consultation Google Form only seeks information on whether your company benefited from exports / imports, investments, supplying services, electronic commerce, and so on from CPTPP countries. How can this be in any way adequate to assess the implications of the trade agreement? What substantial input can MITI share during the General Review meeting regarding impacts on small government contractors, farmers, workers, micro-SME’s etc.? MITI’s so called public consultation is a farce only done to put a tick on a box that they have done ‘consultations’.
(Public Consultation Google Form:
Among the concerns raised numerous times to the government about the adverse effects of the CPTTPA are:
• Our trade imports could increase to more than USD 2 billion a year compared to exports when import tariffs are brought down to zero percent.
• Job losses are expected when we are flooded with imported products at more competitive prices compared to our local SME-manufactured products.
• Increased imports of agricultural products will destroy the livelihoods of our local agro food producers. CPTPP is about trade liberalization, and there have been many reports on how liberalization will have great impacts on local farmers.
• CPTPPA requires that Malaysia sign up to the UPOV 1991 Convention that prohibits seed sharing amongst local farmers, making them beholden to large agro-corporations to procure their seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides.
• Wide power was granted to foreign investors under the CPTPPA that would tie the government's hands to implement affirmative action for the rakyat.
• Corporations are empowered to sue the Malaysian government if we do not honour the rights given to their investment as per the CPTPPA.
But none of the above mention impacts are assessed by MITI in preparation for the General Review 2024. 
PSM calls upon the Prime Minister to immediately assess the real impacts of the CPTPP and not be misled by half-baked information from MITI’s Public Consultation Survey results. PSM has lost confidence in the MITI Minister, Tengku Zafrul, to objectively assess the adverse impacts of CPTPP. CPTPP is beyond trade as it influences our food sovereignty, government procurement, investor rights, bumi policy, and government policy space.
*Sivarajan A. is the Secretary-General of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM).*